Bugs Bunny, that carrot-chomping, cross-dressing rascal, might have been created by Tex Avery in the 1940 cartoon A Wild Hare, but he really came into his own under the direction of Chuck Jones. In cartoons like What’s Opera, Doc and Rabbit Season, Jones refined Bugs' character, turning him into someone who was witty, resourceful and, most of all, cool. Whether or not he was going up against Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam or Marvin the Martian, Bugs always seemed to have the upper hand. Jones once compared Bugs with his vain, self-aggrandizing rival Daffy Duck by saying, "Bugs is who we want to be. Daffy is who we are.”
In the video above, Jones shows you how to draw Bugs, and, of course, he makes it look like a cinch. “If you were to draw Bugs,” says Jones in his clipped, precise diction, “the best way to do it is learn how to draw a carrot and then you can hook a rabbit on to it.” Not the most helpful advice for aspiring animators. Yet watching Jones sketch out the world’s most famous rabbit in a mere couple of minutes is a joy to see.
The trick to drawing Bugs, apparently, is the nose. After roughing out a circle for the head and a reniform oval for the body, Jones draws a tiny triangle for the nose. From there, he sketches out two lines, radiating outward from the nose, which determines the location of Bugs' ears and eyes. As Jones fills in the rest of the face, he reveals that the inspiration of Bugs' broad, toothy grin was Norwegian figure skater turned 1930s Hollywood star Sonia Henie. Not, perhaps, the first person to come to mind.
To see the Bugs in action, be sure to watch one of Jones’s greatest cartoons, Hare-Way to the Stars. It features Bugs squaring off against Marvin the Martian in his quest to blow up the Earth with his Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator. More great animations can be found in our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.